Tabloid News: Conviction

At the risk of degenerating Chicagoboyz into Fox or CNBC, let’s note CBS reports a verdict at Ford Hood, where

Army Spc. Charles Graner Jr., the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at the Abu Ghraib prison, was convicted Friday of abusing Iraqi detainees in a case that sparked international outrage when photographs were released that showed reservists gleefully abusing prisoners.

This CBS story, like most, doesn’t give the context to help us pass the test at the Mudville Gazette. However, it does seem to purposely mislead and choose interesting phrasing in an attempt to blow CBS’s horn. “The deck was stacked against him once charges were filed, especially after his supervisors refused to back him up” their legal expert notes. A network enamoured of “cover up” chooses “back him up” here?

Apparently the jury decided men in their thirties were capable of choosing evil on their own. It saw neither noble savages nor a need for aluminum tinfoil beanies.

We haven’t been talking much about Iraq lately. Ralf Goergens’s post last week comparing Iraq to South Africa was interesting. PBS and NPR seem to have a different take. On a variety of their shows, the assumption is that Iraq, the election, and any future is a debacle seems a given. (My daughters claim I keep the television and radios on far too much; they are right.) But in the background this week Charlie Rose leaned forward in sympathy as Stephen P. Cohen and Rashi Khalidi made this assumption; tonight, Jim Lehrer leaned in, asking David Brooks if he isn’t disturbed by the deaths of American soldiers. Generally, I like Lehrer – but this idea that those who want us to pull out, those that want to say the whole thing is a debacle are the people who really care about others is a point Brooks needn’t concede. And he didn’t. Instapundit notes a soldier’s reaction to such reporting and commenting.

Maybe Iraq is falling apart – the death toll is high. Our guys – great guys whose lives were likely to be full and rich – have died. The Iraqis who have died are ones likely to lead the country from chaos – election workers, police in training. We have no doubts that the ambition of the “insurgents” is chaos. Still, Sullivan linked to In Cafe Debate, a Victory for Elections, a Washington Post article on Iraqi chat. In an extreme moment, the writer observes:

Not to be outdone, a smiling Suheil Yassin jumped in. “It’s one of my wishes to die at the gate of the polling station,” he said, a gesture that was self-consciously dramatic. “I want to be a martyr for the ballot box.”

Well, the gesture may have been “self-consciously dramatic,” but the truth is that we hear on the news of people who have been such martyrs. Surely that is news – and surely that reflects the fervency of people who know they are taking risks for the elections, for bringing order to the streets – and they do it anyway.
Not surprisingly, Iraq the Model spends much time on the election and in a positive way; In fact, this is the kind of remark that is heartening:

Day by day, people get more involved in the process and dedicate more of their attention and time to follow the news and discuss the updates and events that are related to the elections and involved parties.

One person I met in Erbil said that he wasn’t going to vote for any of the two major Kurdish parties until they decided to unite their lists and form an alliance. He said “it’s obvious now that they’re not thinking about shallow partisan interests. They’re thinking more about the country’s interests.”

3 thoughts on “Tabloid News: Conviction”

  1. Neither those who call the acts depicted in photos released to the public torture or even tantamount to torture nor those who liken them to frat house hazings are right. The acts depicted are, indeed, much closer to frat house hazings than to torture inflicted, for example, by the Japanese during WWII or the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam conflict. The difference, of course, is that participation in fraternity hazings is voluntary.

    The CBS article that was cited notes that the pictures speak for themselves. What they do not even hint at is that supervisors knew of or ordered the actions let alone that the President or Rumsfeld were either aware of or responsible for, in any way, the offending behaviors. That is, in my opinion, the ultimate prize in the whole Abu Ghraib prison scandal, at least from the MSM point of view: to lay the buck on the President’s desk.

    Inuendo and “only possible defense” claims by those whose culpability is clear, simply will not do. Of course, to many in this country, evidence, or lack thereof, is simply irrelevant. To them, Bush is guilty period.

  2. Mudville puts this in context – I certainly wouldn’t have gotten a 100%. CBS needed to give us that context. (All of its listeners, after all, don’t follow the blogs. Probably by now, damn few of them do.)

    I suspect Graner didn’t testify because he might have been asked why he was supposed to “soften up” prisoners with no connection to intelligence interrogation. The CBS and most other reports just let his statements implying that he was a “victim” lie there. These were neither prisoners who were likely to be innocent (they were sent there because they had been fighting in the prison) nor were they connected to any “insurgent” group.

    Many Americans do, indeed, excuse the mistreatment of just such men in American prisons. They are wrong and what Graner did was wrong. That does not mean that our whole Iraqi mission is tainted and evil. It means that each of us, given too much power over others, is tempted to abuse it. That is what institutional discipline is meant to restrain. When it fails, the individual needs to be held responsible but the institutional safeguards, too, need to be examined. So? That’s life.

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